As I mentioned last week, in past years, when Partners join the Board or Leadership Team, I have asked each of them to offer answers to a Proust Questionnaire as a way of introducing themselves to the partnership. This morning, Brian Klassen’s honest and vulnerable answers open a way for us to get to know him a little more. Thank you, Brian, for this glimpse into your life and thank you, too, for serving on the board.
What gives you joy?
Music, cooking, travel, going for walks, spending time with my wife Marcia, time with our fascinating adult kids and their partners.
What is your greatest fear?
The list is long, but I’ll focus on just a couple: I think my deepest fear is that I don’t matter and that people at best humour me and at worst simply tolerate me.
Another is for my daughter and her husband living in New York. First there was COVID and now the protests, both of which they are actively engaged in. Then there is the question of when we’ll get to see them again. Many sleepless nights over that one.
Oh and who can’t be afraid of the political situation in the US? Many many sleepless nights over that.
What inspires you?
My children. All are in loving partnerships and are actively advocating for change in our world through issues revolving around violence against women, the LGBTQ community, and BIPOC issues (a term I just learned—Black, Indigenous, Person of Colour). I’m not sure where these kids came from but they make me feel much better about the present and future.
What is your favourite pastime?
Cooking, listening to music—especially jazz and indy. I’m actually a huge baseball fan. Isn’t that the ultimate “pastime?” We love driving down to Seattle or going to New York for games. Go Mariners/Mets!
What living person do you most admire and a bit about why?
Without question my wife, Marcia. She comes from so little and yet has brought so much into my world. She teaches me daily about perseverance, love, patience, relationship. She’s one of the most resilient people I know. And silly me thinking that I was rescuing her when we married!
What qualities do you most value in your friends?
Vulnerability and genuineness. I don’t find a lot of enjoyment in small talk or talking about work but really value the opportunity to be real and open about one’s experience of life. However, if there’s good wine and good food, I’m happy to join the conversation.
Who are your favourite writers? What is the next book you will read?
I’ve been discovering so many wonderful new writers (Ocean Vuong, Bernardine Evaristo) lately but the books that I regularly seem to most look forward to are by Rachel Cusk, Margaret Atwood, Miriam Toews, and Jacqueline Woodson. I think my next book will be re-reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I’ve also just ordered White Fragility which seems like a timely and necessary read for someone whose eyes have just been opened to the shocking reality of systemic white supremacy.
Who is your hero of fiction?
The right answer could be the whiskey priest in The Power and the Glory but the more real answer seems to be James Bond (which I write with a smile on my face) who represents so many things I oppose. Years ago, I got into reading many of Ian Fleming’s books and was drawn to this very normal but lonely character who was seeking significance and love. (Some of his books shockingly contained no killing and minimal sex!) For some reason, I identified with the character at that time in my life.
If I gave you a medal right now what would it be for?
I am thankful everyday that I have left behind my conservative, fundamentalist evangelical past and entered into a beautifully freeing and liberal realm of openness and acceptance. 30 years ago, I couldn’t have fathomed ending up in this place. I think that may be my biggest accomplishment thus far and if you want to give me a medal for that, feel free.
What is the greatest gift SoulStream has given you?
The freedom to doubt and ask questions and to see the possibility that God is a loving initiator.